October 28, 2022
The German government provided nearly $500,000 to delivery-drone manufacturer Wingcopter and the Frankfurt University of Applied Sciences to conduct a one-year study of the potential of on-demand transport of consumer goods to Germany’s rural communities.
The pilot project, “Drohnen-Lastenrad-Express-Belieferung” or “Drone Cargo Bike Express Delivery,” will use Wingcopter’s electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) drones to deliver goods from medium-sized cities to smaller villages, where personnel will make the last-mile deliveries via electric cargo bikes.
The project seeks to expand the supply of goods to rural areas, where many smaller, local stores have closed and larger regional retailers cannot provide delivery services for economic reasons. The first flights are set to begin in the south of Hesse in spring 2023.
“We expect that the use of delivery drones will improve the local supply in rural areas again,” Kai-Oliver Schocke, director of the Frankfurt UAS Research Lab for Urban Transport said. “From a socioeconomic perspective, this type of delivery is especially beneficial to citizens with limited mobility, such as the elderly or those without their own cars. In addition, the alternative transport option can result in economic and environmental benefits for the partners involved.”
The project will be evaluated from an economic and environmental perspective. If successful, organizers expect to develop a sustainable and easily scalable business model.
Wingcopter’s primary aircraft is an eVTOL drone that uses a tilt-rotor mechanism to take off and land vertically and travel long distances through wind and rain as a fixed-wing aircraft.
“Delivery drone applications will prevail where they serve a real need and improve lives,” said Selina Herzog, Wingcopter’s head of service solution design and planning. “This is clearly the case with our medical delivery projects in Africa and other parts of the world. However, we are convinced that ‘drone-delivery as a service’ offerings also have a real benefit for many people in rural areas of Germany.”
The project is the first of its kind in Germany, according to Weiterstadt-based Wingcopter. The funding was provided by Germany’s Federal Ministry of Digital and Transport as part of its Innovative Air Mobility program.
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